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This easy Stuffed Shells Recipe is made with 3 types of cheese covered in Marinara sauce and baked to perfection. A single serving comfort food classic!

The best stuffed pasta shells are filled with fluffy ricotta, melted mozzarella and Parmesan cheese, then topped with tomato or marinara sauce and baked. It’s the ultimate comfort food that can even be made ahead and refrigerated until you’re ready to enjoy it. While some versions of this baked pasta dish call for using fresh or frozen spinach, lemon, or other herbs, you really don’t need anything beyond the glorious cheeses. Ours is a basic single serving stuffed pasta recipe that cooks in just 30 minutes!

stuffed shells on a blue plate surrounded by tomato sauce

What Is The Difference Between Stuffed Shells And Manicotti?

Stuffed shells and manicotti are similar dishes. Stuffed shells are jumbo pasta shells made with conchiglie pasta and manicotti are shaped like large tubes. Both kinds of pasta are stuffed and baked although the cooking time may be different between the two.

Why This Recipe Works

  • Easy to make: Stuffed shells are easier to make than lasagna! Simply cook the pasta, mix the filling, stuff the shells, and bake.
  • Super cheesy filling: We mix creamy ricotta, shredded mozzarella, and grated Parmesan cheese with garlic powder and Italian seasoning to create the glorious filling.
  • Tender baked pasta shells: We bake the stuffed shells covered first to trap in as much moisture as possible, then we uncover the pan to melt the cheese.
  • Recipe doubles well: This recipe is made with 6 jumbo shells which we find to be the perfect amount for a single meal. If you’d like to make stuffed shells for two or to simply have a little extra for another meal, just double the ingredient amounts.

Ingredients

stuffed shells ingredients on a kitchen counter

Ingredient Notes

See below for ways to use leftover ingredients.

These comforting stuffed pasta shells are made with easy-to-find ingredients. Here’s what you need:

  • Shells: You will need 6 JUMBO pasta shells. Jumbo shells are the perfect size for stuffing. You can store dry pasta shells in an airtight container in your pantry or in another cool, dry place. Stored this way, dry pasta lasts for up to 2 years.
  • Ricotta cheese: Use whole milk ricotta because it’s thicker and creamier than lower-fat versions and will melt better.
  • Mozzarella cheese: This ingredient is used in the filling and on top of the shells. It melts beautifully into the ricotta which creates an extra-creamy filling.  I recommend shredding your own cheese rather than purchasing bagged pre-shredded cheese. The cheese will melt better when freshly shredded. Pre-shredded cheese contains preservatives that help to keep the shreds of cheese from clumping in the bag. This means that the cheese doesn’t melt as well.
  • Parmesan cheese: For best results, use freshly grated cheese. This cheese is used in the filling.
  • Seasonings: Use salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning. The main herbs in Italian seasoning are basil, oregano, thyme, and rosemary. If you don’t have Italian seasoning, use one or two of these herbs instead.
  • Marinara sauce: For convenience, use your favorite brand of store-bought tomato or marinara sauce or use our small batch homemade tomato sauce recipe.

This is just an overview of the ingredients I used and why I used them. For the full recipe please scroll down to the recipe box at the bottom of the post.

How To Make Stuffed Shells For One

These step-by-step photos and instructions are here to help you visualize how to make this recipe. See the recipe box below for ingredient amounts and full recipe instructions.

  1. Heat the oven to 350°F (177°).
  2. Cook the pasta: Cook the shells in water according to package instructions, stirring occasionally to keep the pasta from sticking to the pot, then drain and set the shells aside.
jumbo pasta shells cooking in boiling water
  1. Make the filling. Mix together the ricotta, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and garlic powder in a medium-sized bowl.
ricotta cheese and seasonings in a mixing bowl
  1. Stir in the mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.
stuffed shells filling in a medium sized mixing bowl
  1. Spread 1/4 cup of marinara sauce in the bottom of a 5×5-inch baking dish. Using a spoon, fill each shell with the ricotta mixture and place in the baking dish.
six unbaked stuffed pasta shells in a small square baking dish
  1. Spoon additional marinara sauce over the shells, then sprinkle shredded mozzarella cheese over the tops.
stuffed pasta shells topped with shredded mozzarella cheese
  1. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes.
  2. Uncover the dish, then bake for an additional 10 minutes or until the cheese has melted.
  3. Sprinkle with fresh basil or parsley and enjoy.
baked pasta shells in a white square baking dish topped with fresh basil.

Expert Tips

  • Read through the entire recipe and the Ingredient Notes section of the post and gather your ingredients. Stuffed shells come together quickly so it’s a good idea to have everything ready before beginning. Although this dish is easy to make, you might have questions about the process and many of your questions may be answered in the Ingredient Notes section and from the process photos and pro tips above. 
  • Undercook your shells by 1 to 2 minutes because they will continue to cook when they bake. Most package instructions will note the time needed to perfectly cook al dente pasta. Al dente means firm to the bite. Overcooking the shells will make them flimsy and hard to stuff.
  • Grate your cheese instead of purchasing pre-shredded bags of cheese. Pre-shredded cheese is coated with anti-caking agents and preservatives and does not melt as smoothly as freshly grated or shredded cheeses.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can This Recipe Be Doubled?

Yes. If you’d like to make stuffed shells for two or simply have a little leftover for another meal, just double the ingredient amounts and use a baking dish or pan that has a base area of 50 square inches like an 8×2-inch round pan.

What Size Baking Dish Is Best To Use?

We use a 5×5-inch baking dish when making our small batch stuffed shells recipe. The dish we use in our recipes can be found on our store page.

Do I Have To Use Ricotta?

The best substitute for ricotta is drained and mashed full-fat cottage cheese.

a stuffed pasta shell filled with ricotta on a fork

Recipe Variations

Although I love this classic stuffed shells recipe just as it is, you might like to try these delightful variations. If adding additional ingredients, cook 2 to 3 extra shells to allow for the increase in the mixture.

  • Protein: Stir about 2 ounces of cooked crumbled ground beef, ground turkey, or Italian sausage into the cheese mixture.
  • Vegetables: Add mushrooms, spinach, kale, squash, or sun-dried tomatoes.
  • Sauce: Swap out the marinara sauce for tomato sauce or creamy Alfredo sauce.
  • Cheese: Use other types of cheese instead of the ones listed in this recipe. Try gruyere, fontina, or another good melting cheese.

Make Ahead And Storage Instructions

  • To Make Ahead: The shells can be prepared a few days in advance. Follow the instructions as noted in the recipe right after assembly but before baking. Cover the casserole with foil and refrigerate until you are ready to bake it. When you are ready to bake the shells, take the dish out of the refrigerator and allow it to come up to room temperature while you preheat the oven. Bake as directed in the recipe.
  • Leftovers: Refrigerate leftover stuffed shells in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
  • Reheating: Warm leftovers in the microwave or oven until the shells are heated through and the cheese has melted.
  • To Freeze: Fully assemble the shells in a small baking dish before baking and cover tightly with foil. Freeze for up to 3 months. To thaw, place the dish in the refrigerator overnight. Bake as directed.

Serving Suggestions

So many side dishes go well with stuffed shells. You might like to consider serving yours with a simple cucumber salad or French bread.

More Single Serving Pasta Casseroles

Ways To Use Leftover Ingredients

If you have any ingredients leftover from this easy stuffed shells recipe, you might like to consider using them in any of these single serving and small batch recipes:

For more information on the cooking and baking dishes I use in our “recipes for one”, please visit our FAQ page.

For examples of the dishes used at One Dish Kitchen, please visit our Store page.

If you’ve tried this single serving stuffed shells recipe or any recipe on One Dish Kitchen please let me know how you liked it by rating the recipe and telling me about it in the comment section below.

Also, if you take a picture please tag us on Instagram (@onedishkitchen) we’d love to see it!


Your Cooking For One Source
Because you’re worth it

Stuffed Shells For One

5 from 2 votes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 45 minutes
Servings: 1 serving
A classic stuffed shells recipe made with 3 types of cheese covered in Marinara sauce and baked to perfection. A single serving comfort food classic!

Ingredients 
 

  • 6 uncooked jumbo pasta shells
  • ¼ cup ricotta cheese
  • ¼ teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • teaspoon garlic powder
  • teaspoon salt
  • teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese , divided
  • 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup marinara sauce , divided
  • Optional: fresh basil or parsley for topping

Instructions 

  • Heat the oven to 350°F (177°).
  • Cook the shells in water according to package instructions, stirring occasionally to keep the pasta from sticking to the pot, then drain and set aside.
  • Mix together the ricotta, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt, and pepper in a medium-sized bowl.
  • Stir in ¼ cup of mozzarella and the parmesan cheese.
  • Spread ¼ cup of marinara sauce in the bottom of a 5×5-inch baking dish. Fill each shell with the ricotta mixture and place in the baking dish.
  • Spoon the remaining ¼ cup of marinara sauce over the shells, then sprinkle the remaining ¼ cup of mozzarella cheese over the tops.
  • Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes.
  • Uncover the dish, then bake for an additional 10 minutes or until the cheese has melted.
  • Sprinkle with fresh basil or parsley if desired and enjoy hot.

Notes

Expert Tips
  • Read through the entire recipe and the Ingredient Notes section of the post and gather your ingredients. Stuffed shells come together quickly so it’s a good idea to have everything ready before beginning. Although this dish is easy to make, you might have questions about the process and many of your questions may be answered in the Ingredient Notes section and from the process photos and pro tips above. 
  • Undercook your shells by 1 to 2 minutes because they will continue to cook when they bake. Most package instructions will note the time needed to perfectly cook al dente pasta. Al dente meaks firm to the bite. Overcooking the shells will make them flimsy and hard to stuff.
  • Grate your cheese instead of purchasing pre-shredded bags of cheese. Pre-shredded cheese is coated with anti-caking agents and preservatives and does not melt as smoothly as freshly grated or shredded cheeses.

Nutrition

Serving: 6stuffed shells, Calories: 467kcal, Carbohydrates: 48g, Protein: 28g, Fat: 12g, Saturated Fat: 7g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 4g, Cholesterol: 52mg, Sodium: 1068mg, Potassium: 428mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 995IU, Vitamin C: 9mg, Calcium: 488mg, Iron: 2mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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5 Comments

    1. Hi Javon, Six jumbo shells fit perfectly in the 5-inch baking dish, just take a look at the photos in the post.

    2. Sorry I have never cooked with the shells. I thought they were bigger. Looking forward to making them .